December 7, 2009

Favorite Children’s books

I just finished the illustration above of a father and his children camping and reading.

While creating this illustration I started thinking about different children’s book and what I liked as a child and what I like now as an adult. I have hundreds of favorite children’s books. There are so many wonderful books published that in my opinion it is impossible to select just a few to label as favorite. That was different when I was a small child. I had books I loved: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban and Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach, for example. But two books stick out in my memory as being my favorite: The Very Little Girl by Phyllis Krasilovsky, and Shoes for Angela by Ellen Bartow Snavely. The reason I like the book The Very Little Girl so much was because the story has a lot of word repetition in it and I loved the way my mother’s voice sounded when she read it out loud to me. In the book Shoes for Angela the main little girl gets to own lots and lots of shoes and honestly I thought that was a lovely idea. I had such a good time looking at all of the illustrations of shoes. What were your favorite books as a child? Why did you like them so much?

December 1, 2009

Reusable Produce Bags

I think it is wonderful that it is so easy to obtain reusable grocery bags; but I realized that I was still using plastic bags to gather my produce. So I decided to make my own reusable produce bags! I wanted to pick a fabric that is see-through so the casher can see what I am purchasing. I went to my local Goodwill store to see what they had. There is a wonderful Goodwill store that just opened up in South Attleboro, MA. I wasn’t sure what I would find to use, but I found the perfect fabric, shear window curtains! I could make six bags out of each curtain. I also found a few shirts that made great bags too, but I liked the curtains the best because I could make so many out of them and it was more cost effective. I ended up making 30 bags total so I could give some to family and friends. Along with the picture of the final bags you will see instructions that I drew up on how to make a bag. It is very easy!

1. Estimate where you think the middle of the curtain is and cut the curtain in half.

2. Then take each half and make two cuts across to create three rectangles.

3. The other cool thing about using curtain fabric is that the top of the curtain is already folded over to create an area to put the curtain rod through, or in our case a drawstring. So you only have to create this folded over area on 4 of the bags instead of all six. Decide which end you would like to be the top of your bag, then fold down the top about an inch or ½ inch. (depending on how wide your ribbon is). Pin the edge down. With a sewing machine sew along the line that you pinned. Now you have an area to push your drawstring through.

4. Now you want to fold your bag in half (inside out) and pin the bottom and side. When pinning make sure you don’t close up the ends of the area you just sewed for your drawstring. Sew the bottom and sides. I sewed a double seam on the bottom to make the bag stronger. To do this, just sew one seam and then a couple centimeters above the seam sew another one.

5. You are ready to put the drawstring in. Turn your bag right side out. Take a safety pin and pin it to the end of your ribbon. Push the safety pin with the ribbon attached along the drawstring area that you sewed in step 3. For my ribbon I just found left over ribbons that were hanging around the house.

6. When you have pulled it all the way through tie the two ends together with a double knot or a double knotted bow.

7. Congratulations! You now have a reusable produce bag!

November 27, 2009

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!

This is one of my favorite holidays because I love to spend time with family and friends and of course eating good food while doing that. One of the things that I love about this holiday is that every family has one or two dishes or a whole meal that they repeat every year. There is something so comforting about revisiting those favorite dishes. It takes me back to my childhood and makes me feel at home no matter where I am spending the holiday. Southern corn pudding is one of my absolute favorite dishes. To make this dish you need:
2 cans of corn
3 eggs
One teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
3 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tablespoons of sugar
5 tablespoons of green pepper chopped up
1 1/8 cups of scalded milk
Sauté green pepper in butter. Scald the milk. In an oven safe casserole dish mix in all of the ingredients. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl with a fork a little before added them. Preheat the oven to 325 and cook for 40 minutes or until when you check it with a knife and the knife comes out clean.
What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving?
I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving and are now enjoying the leftovers!!

November 17, 2009

How to Make a Compost Pile

This is something that I have wanted to do for years; and it has inspired the illustration above. My Grandmother has three different piles going at once all in different stages: one that is ready to use in her garden, one that is in the process of composting and the last she is actively “feeding”.

In my illustrations I have depicted all of the elements that you need to get you started!

1. It is recommended that you dig a shallow area where you would like your compost pile to be. It should be in a sunny area that receives shade during the course of the day. There are two reasons for digging out an area. The first is that it gets your pile closer to the wonderful little worms that help decompose your pile and second it helps contain the pile so it doesn’t slowly spread across your lawn. Some people prefer to buy or make bins to help with the spreading problem.
2. Place a layer of twigs on the bottom of your dug out area. They should be skinny about the width of your fingers.
3. Next add a layer (a few inches) of dry material, such as: leaves, twigs, newspaper, cereal boxes and egg cartons.
4. A few inches of green material comes next, for example: fruit and vegetable leftovers, tea bags and coffee grinds, egg shell and fresh grass clippings.
5. Water the pile so it is nice and damp, but not drowning in water (no puddles).
6. To finish the pile off put a few shovel full of dirt on top. Don’t pack the pile down, you want to keep all of the air pockets to help with the decomposing.
7. Don’t stop there! Keep on feeding your pile with the above ingredients over the weeks and months. Do not worry about placing the exact layers as stated above, but try to keep an equal amount of dry and green materials. When you feel like your pile is full. Then it is time to let it rest so it can do its magic and create wonderful soil for your garden!
8. Start another pile!

Creating a compost pile has a lot many benefits. One of them is that it will cut the trash that you throw away down dramatically. As you can see, it isn’t that hard to create a compost pile; and there are lots of wonderful sites where you can get more details on creating your own pile!

November 9, 2009

Rainy Day Fun!

I have been having so much fun creating with the program painter!
Above is an illustration that I just finished.

October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! I love this time of year. It is so much fun getting dressed up and walking around in the cool crisp air; getting to see all of the creative costumes. My mom was very creative with my sister and my costumes when we were young and sewed each one. I think one of my favorite costumes was the year I was Cinderella: poor and rich. My dress was split down the middle…one half of the dress was rags and the other side was a ball gown. We ratted my hair on one side and on the other side put my hair up in an elegant twist. What was your favorite costume growing up?

In the above pictures you will see Seth’s and my attempts at carving pumpkins. I don’t think they will be featured in Martha Stewart’s magazine any time soon…but we had a wonderful time creating them! I don’t know about you, but the shape or the stem of the pumpkin always tells me what face it wants before I carve it. Because of the long stem shooting up into the air I imagined a startled face for my pumpkin.

The other picture is an illustration that I just finished! I purchased the computer program painter a few months back and that is what I created this illustration with. (With a little help form Photoshop and Indesign too!) I really love working with painter, it is amazing how much that program can do.

I hope you have a fun Halloween!

February 18, 2009

Nancy Cote’s Book Signing!

This past Monday I had the pleasure of attending Nancy Cote’s book signing at Barnes and Nobles in Dartmouth. The book that she read, Jackson’s Blanket, was written and illustrated by her. It is a wonderful book about a boy who doesn’t want to give up his blanket even though his parents think it’s time. The story’s turning point is when the boy finds a homeless kitten and he and his family adopt it. The boy gives his blanket to the kitten to keep her warm. This book has a very nice message about adopting homeless animals as well as showing the little boy growing up and able to let go of his blanket. I highly recommend you check out this book!

February 11, 2009

A New Illustration!

I am very excited to say that I am going to Whispering Pines this March! A couple of my friends; Liz Dubois and Barbara Johansennewman have gone several times and tell me how fun and inspirational the weekend is. I can’t wait to experience it for myself! The illustration above is one of the final drawings that is in the dummy that I have submitted for the retreat. The text is excluded.

January 12, 2009

Cookies, Cookies and More Cookies!

The holiday season went by so fast I didn’t have time to post pictures from my cookie party. But they looked too good not to share, so here they are!